Coming off their best finish in Olympic history at Torino, where they finished 5th, the Slovaks will be looking to some of their big names to carry them in a tournament against teams that are stacked with superstars. Zdeno Chara leads the defense, while Marian Hossa and speedster Marian Gaborik headline the offense. Giving the Slovaks a boost in goal will be upstart Habs netminder Jaroslav Halak, who has been making his own case for the starting job in Montreal with stellar play. >
Goalies Jaroslav Halak: Halak has been great in net for the Montreal so far, when he’s played. In 19 starts, he has 12 wins and a 2.50 GAA. He should be the hands-down starter.
Peter Budaj: Budaj had a poor season last year with the struggling Avs, but has played well in the backup role this year, with 4 wins and a 2.22 GAA in 10 games. Probably the first option should anything happen to Halak.
Ratislav Stana: Drafted in 1998, Stana played only 6 games with the Capitals before returning to Europe, where he has played most of his career. He has 14 wins and a 2.67 GAA in the KHL this year.
Defensemen Zdeno Chara: the reigning Norris trophy is still one of the most feared defenders in the league. At 6’9, 255, Chara is a force to be reckoned with. He also has the hardest shot in the league, and is brilliant when quarterbacking the powerplay.
Milan Jurcina: Jurcina was the odd man out in Washington, and so he was traded to Columbus, where he has seen more regular ice time. Jurcina doesn’t provide much offense, but he is solid defensively.
Richard Lintner: Lintner had a cup of tea in the NHL with a couple different teams, but has spent most of his career playing in Europe and Russia. He has scored 10 points for Dynamo Minsk in the KHL this season.
Andrej Mezsaros: Mezsaros was once considered one of the premier offensive defensemen in the league, but has seen his production drop since being traded to Tampa Bay. He has only 8 points and is -13 this year.
Andrej Sekera: Sekera is a promising young player who can provide some offensive pop from the blueline while still being solid defensively. A regular contributor on the Northeast-leading Buffalo Sabres.
Martin Strbak: Strbak played only 49 NHL games after winning back to back championships in Russia in 2002 and 2003. He is having a career year in the KHL, scoring 6 goals and 23 points in 40 games.
Lubomir Visnovsky: Visnovsky is a veteran defenseman who is very capable on the powerplay. After scoring 67 points in 05-06 with LA, he’s been somewhat of a disappointment the past two years in Edmonton, scoring only 72 points in the last two seasons. He is having a better year this year, however, with 8 goals and 26 points at the midway point of the season.
Forwards Lubos Bartecko: Bartecko played five years in the NHL with the Blues and Thrashers, scoring 46 goals in 257 games. He has spent the last seven years playing in various European and Russian teams, and has scored 12 goals in 44 games with SC Bern in Switzerland this year.
Martin Cibak: Cibak never really found success in the NHL, but has been decent playing in Sweden and Russia. Wouldn’t make most Olympic teams, but with a lack of depth at center for the Slovaks, he’ll have to do.
Pavol Demitra: Demitra has been a core member of the Slovakian team for over a decade, and will be expected to provide veteran leadership in Vancouver. Scored 20 goals and 53 points for the Canucks last year.
Marian Gaborik: Gaborik’s durability was the main question when he was traded to New York. He’s stayed healthy so far, and has been the lone offensive bright spot for the Rangers with 28 goals and 53 points already.
Michal Handzus: Like Demitra, Handzus has been a staple of Slovakian teams since the early ‘90s. A great faceoff man and solid two-way center, Handzus will probably center Gaborik and Hossa on the top line.
Marian Hossa: Hossa missed the first quarter of the season with a shoulder injury, but has been lighting it up since joining the Blackhawks, with 10 goals and 20 points in 22 games. A true superstar.
Marcel Hossa: Marian’s younger brother was a capable two way player in the NHL before heading to Russia in 2008. His offensive abilities are much more evident in the less competitive KHL, and the Slovaks will look for him to continue playing at a high level in Vancouver.
Tomas Kopecky: Kopecky is a solid forward, who can provide the occasional offense, but is better as a defensive forward and playmaker.
Zigmund Palffy: Ziggy has been out of the NHL since 2006, but the Slovakians will be hoping he’s still got a few goals left in his aging hands.
Branko Radivojevic: Radivojevic has been playing in Russia since 2008, where he has had much more success than he ever did in the NHL. We’ll see if he can translate that to success at the international level.
Jozef Stumpel: Another veteran of Slovakian teams in the past, Stumpel will likely play with Palffy as the two have played together in previous tournaments.
Miroslav Satan: Satan was recently signed by Boston after sitting out the start of the season. Satan showed his age last year with Pittsburgh, but can still play.
Richard Zednik: Zednik’s having a comeback year with 33 points already for the Panthers.
Roster depth: Weak Medal Chances: Slim